It is getting hard to say good-bye to these new friends. Yesterday Stephen Dunn left. He has a ritual of going to the Peterborough Diner for breakfast on his last day of MacDowell. Sadly, the diner had a grease fire on Monday and is closed until they get it cleaned up. You think you have Stephen figured out going in, when he lets you in, you find out you didn’t have a clue.
Stephen did a reading of about 15 poems last week, some were new, and some were read from his books. I was blown away and I couldn’t get enough. I thought about it all night and the next morning at breakfast I distanced myself from him unknowingly. It took some time to process what had happened. I went back to my studio and tried to work on my drawings. I couldn’t do it until I cleared some of the visual language he had planted in my head. So I wrote a poem about Stephen reading poems to the group. It wasn’t enough, I went to the bookstore and picked up a copy of the book he was reading from. I read it cover to cover.
I saw Stephen the next day after dinner and told him that he had wrecked my day, and I couldn’t get anything done. He said, “thank you, I’m glad I could do that for you.” He brought me a piece of cake for desert. Stephen is awesome, and I mean that in the most beautiful sense of the word.
This is the first poem I have ever written; it is a poem for Stephen Dunn.
Speaking into a microphone
That has become a vocal splint
the trembling hand is not a lack of courage
Rather a life of experience
The act of bravery isn’t in the reading
but in the revealing
reveling in the past
over the frame of his glasses
eyeing the future
arousal of language
generous in his verbal prowess
proud in his reflective conquests
years saturated in humility
dispersing worded gifts
Seducing the room
an inopportune moment for an idea to appear
which will disappear
like the vapor on his breath
It’s hard to follow up after Stephen, but Larry Raab left this morning as well. Larry has a great mustache that lets you know when he is smiling. Larry also read after Stephen last week. Larry was equally moving and passionate in his poems. He is the kind of guy who loves to roll around in his work, creating more reasons to make a poem for himself. He doesn’t need an excuse to write, but perhaps a framework to keep his mind in, keeping him between the rails of his thoughts. Larry is extremely generous in his love of poetry and people, and he wants you to enjoy the art of words as much as he does.
Our social cruise director also left this morning. Rosecrans Baldwin dropped into MacDowell like a maniac from another planet. He apparently had to sleep on the couch in Colony Hall his first night because he was late getting in. He said it was due to weather. I think he was at Harlow’s. Roseman is a writer working on his new book, Paris I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down. The title alone should tell you something about this guy. Never to shy for a drink and conversation, there was not one minute of silence or idle talk, and he actually listens too. His passion for writing is equal to that of life. Everyday he was at MacDowell Rosewood organized something, a party, ping-pong or pool tournament, or simply tennis in the afternoon. I thought he was crazy when he sent me a message saying he had found a rope swing at the pond. It was 66 degrees outside. But Rosewater found some takers; I was not one of them. Every residency needs that person that breaks the ice for the group, without them I don’t think you can get the most out of the experience.
He claims to have gotten a lot of work done here, I’m not sure when, but I trust he did. His reading last night with John Haskell was hilarious, as he read a couple of sections from his new book that drops in the spring. Laugh out loud funny, and you can truly see him in his words. Rosebush is the kind of guy that you can poke and tease and he comes back for more. The kind of guys who can have a name like Rosecrans and pull it off.
Thanks guys, MacDowell gets a little quieter today.